Andy Schleck. former Tour de France winner, is forced to retire

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It was announced this morning that former Tour de France winner Andy Schleck would be retiring from professional cycling. The Trek Factory Racing rider had a successful career which included victories at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de Suisse and of course a Tour de France win in 2010.

However many fans will be disappointed to see the Luxembourgian retiring at an early age due to a knee injury suffered in this years Tour de France. Although his Grand Tour win in 2010 was awarded retroactively, many people would argue that he deserved to beat Alberto Contador with or without a failed drugs tests or a dropped chain.

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High hopes

After winning three White Jerseys in the best Young Rider classifications at the Tour de France as well as another in the Giro d’Italia, it was expected that Schleck would go on to win multiple full general classification titles than the single anti climax title that he did win.

What has surprised observers most is not that he hasn't gone on to win again after injuries, but that he has got no where near to the performances that he produced in his early career.

The cynics will claim that his early career performances among a peloton who have a doping history suggest that Schleck was training along the same methods. Especially when the single Tour de France that he did win was instead of a suspended doper, as well as brother Frank being suspended after testing positive for Xipamide in 2012.

More blows

Further setbacks hit Andy's career in 2012-3 after rumours surfaced of a lack of motivation as well as Schleck turning to alcohol and concerns over biological passport data, though this was dismissed by him and his team.

Supporters of the younger of the Schleck brothers, will recognise that trying to return to the peak of professional cycling after suffering an injury such as a fractured pelvis is not an easy task.

When trying to recover from other injuries including a troublesome knee that has affected him most recently, a 20th place finish in the 2013 Tour de France was seen as a solid comeback and potential hope for the future.

Writing on the wall

However a number of withdrawals throughout the 2014 season including abandoning in the first week of the Tour de France after rupturing both the collateral and cruciate ligaments in his knee.

Schleck did reveal that he had been offered a contract for the 2015 season but 'did not want to be a disappointment to himself anymore'. Therefore it is no surprise that Schleck has come to this decision which will be a big loss to cycling, for a rider who promised so much.

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